In the past 4-5 years South Africa has seen a rise of what seems to be a generation of footballers who will change the national team’s fortunes for the better.
This could help take South African football back to where it was a few years ago when the country reached the highest ever ranking of number 16 in world football, in August 1996.
SA’s lowest ever ranking was a placing of 124th in 1992, the year the country was re-admitted to international football.
There are three categories of these players who have flooded Europe in large numbers at a very young age.
The first category is players that were born in South Africa and grew up playing their football in the local clubs/academies. Eventually, they moved at the age of 18 to play overseas.
The second category is that of players who were born in the country but relocated to Europe as children with their parents or their families and then the final category is those players who were born and raised outside of South Africa to SA parents.
All these players from these three categories qualify to represent the country even though they have had different journeys in their careers.
The recent case saw the national call up of Khanya Leshabela of Leicester city who was born in South Africa but moved to England at a young age and is now an international player having been called up to the u20 and u23 camps.
The next generation of young footballers based overseas includes a player who has already been part of the youth set up for South Africa in 18-year-old defender Bradley Cross who is currently with Schalke 04 of Germany.
And then there is also Katlego Mashigo(18) of Irish giants Bohemians FC who has just recently got his first call up for South Africa.
The rest of the players have not made their debuts for the national team and those players are namely Boipelo Mashigo (17) of German side Unterhatching, Andreas Nemeth(17) of Genk in Belgium, Siyabonga Ligendza(16) of Cardiff city in the English Championship ,Tumelo Tlou(17) of Longford City in Ireland and Max McMillan(16) of Leeds United in England.
These are the few players that are eligible to play for South Africa in the next u20 cycle and if mixed with majority of the locally based players the next generation of Amajita can be a force to be reckoned with.
So indeed, the future of South African football does look bright.
By Prince Sobayeni